2009 R&D 100 Winner
Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, N.M., designed MagViz to help make the separate airport security screening of containers of liquids unnecessary. Using the same principles as traditional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)—but without the large, powerful magnet—MagViz forms a low-resolution MRI of the contents of a carry-on bag in just 60 seconds. The device works by measuring relaxation times of protons exposed to magnetic fields. Because the energy of the fields is so much smaller than that used by traditional MRI, the relaxation time is obtained with extremely sensitive magnetic-field detectors called superconducting quantum interference devices, or SQUIDs, which are cooled to liquid-helium temperatures.
Although images from MagViz lack the fine detail of traditional MRI, they are still able to deliver information about the chemical properties of different tissue types and tissue conditions. When it comes to liquids, MagViz can gauge the properties to determine if the liquid is harmless or a threat.
MRI technology for detection of liquids
Los Alamos National Laboratory